During his presentation of the Budget 2023-2024, this evening, the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Dr Renganaden Padayachy, announced that in order to support local entrepreneurs, the maximum grant provided under the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Support Scheme will be increased from Rs 200,000 to Rs 250,000.
Other measures to support the local industry include:
Extension of the SME interest-free Loan Scheme and the COVID-19 Special Support Scheme by the Development Bank of Mauritius (DBM) up to June 2024;
Government will continue to pay up to Rs 500 of salary compensation for SMEs;
Extension of the SME Employment Scheme for another year;
The DBM will write off long outstanding loans of more than 20 years and loans of deceased micro-entrepreneurs.
Women-owned MSMEs will benefit from a 10 % increase in the margin of preference for public procurement of goods; and
Government will contribute Rs 15,000 monthly for a period of two years for newly employed women or those who have been unemployed for at least a year under the ‘Prime à L’Emploi’ Scheme.
Moreover, the Finance Minister underscored that the manufacturing sector remains the largest contributor to our country’s economy and has recorded a growth of 10.4 % last year, making it exceptionally resilient and exceeding its pre-pandemic level in less than two years.
In this context, a series of measures to encourage this growth were announced. They are:
The introduction of an “En route vers le Made in Moris” programme for some 120 SMEs over a period of three years to build their capacity towards joining the label;
Allocating a “Made in Moris” dedicated area at the Mauritius Duty-Free Paradise at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport;
Procurement of at least 50 % of all biscuits, uniforms, edible oil, margarine, tea, juice, and yogurt from local manufacturers;
The extension of the investment tax credit to all manufacturing companies for the next three years in order to encourage higher levels of investment and automation; and
Renewal of the Africa Warehousing Scheme for a period of three years to cover expenses in relation to warehousing, expertise, and export consulting.
Dr Padayachy further outlined additional initiatives being taken to maintain the momentum in exports for the next fiscal year, such as:
The extension of the Freight Rebate Scheme and the Trade Promotion and Marketing Schemes to facilitate exports by sea and air;
The extension of the 50 % reduction in export port charges and;
The extension of the Export Credit Guarantee Scheme.
Furthermore, he underscored that transforming Mauritius into a manufacturing and services hub for the region will necessitate a well-defined industrial and services development strategy.
In this context, the Minister indicated that Government will continue to support the expansion of the manufacturing sector by: updating the existing legal framework on industrial development to cater for the setting up of Special Economic Zones so as to effectively position Mauritius as a gateway for the African Market; investments linked to the production of materials for renewable energy technologies will henceforth benefit from incentives under the Premium Investor Certificate; the decarbonisation of the manufacturing sector and its transition towards a Carbon Neutral Industry will be accelerated.
Government will also provide a 50 % waiver on the increase in electricity prices for the next two years for companies moving towards 100 % renewable energy; and a 75 % subsidy will be provided for the conduct of energy audits.
Moreover, the Finance Minister announced other initiatives aiming at supporting small and medium contractors. These include:
SMEs will benefit from a 30 % margin of preference;
Public contracts below Rs 30 million will be reserved for micro and small enterprises;
Micro-enterprises will be allowed to bid for contracts of up to Rs 1 million without a minimum turnover requirement;
DBM Ltd will extend its loan of up to Rs 25 million at a concessional rate of 3.5 percent per annum; and
To support small contractors in their working capital, the Construction Contracts (Special Provisions) Bill will be introduced.